Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. And not because she currently lives in Greece, either. The Australian-native author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist has her roots firmly planted in music, and admits inspiration often stems from lyrics she’s written.

She is the co-founder and co-editor of the Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. Her debut collection of poems, Twisted Velvet Chains and novel, String Bridge, are available at all fine booksellers.

More information about Jessica Bell at: http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/

 
The Disguised Cicada’s Click

(Writer’s Digest Award-Winning Poem 2010)

The houses are set with stiff stilted shutters
Stained and lashed with liquid limestone
And tailored by locals to keep summer swelter out—insulation clone
They’re bound by meandering mountainous roads
Framed indulgently with olive groves
And encased in a vacuum of air so crisp that smells like garlic cloves

Occasionally I can hear doorways creak
As though possessed with a palate for prey
Pride is invested in eavesdropping grapevines—so the locals say
The doors are painted colours eccentric even to the colour blind
Or to geriatric loaded foreigners who steal domestic oranges for rind
And at times to naive tourists who believe in consecrated dirt and grime

Head-butting each other senselessly
Village goats stroll about the stringent streets
Trying to escape looming mopeds, roosters, travellers—void of peace
But out bliss begins to bloom boldly from deep within
When the disguised cicada’s click is captured in the desiccated wind
Or even by the gracious grocer who greets me with his gorgeous grin

And although I’ll need to wade through heat waves
Rising from the newly laid and crackling tar
Behind this tortured rapture I find a buried brace—spectacular
It’s the ocean’s ghostly turquoise sparkle and its undisturbed serenity
Which sleeps like oil until man disrupts its respite and solemn fertility
I let it mask me like a shroud of sparkling wine, and I swallow it, before it
     swallows me.

 
IT WAS SUMMER

the village street light
makes the gravel shine
like clusters
of black diamonds
where i buried
you alive.
you were dressed
in dirty linen
rather than
light orange cotton.
or perhaps
you’d have preferred
cheesecloth—cream—
to keep you cool
during Mediterranean
afternoons?
the sun makes my eyes bleed,
you’d say,
twisting your signet ring,
round, round,
off, on               out, in
you’d squash
your little knuckle
till it looked
like your frown
on the days
i’d go skinny
dipping
after you’d

touch me.

the gravel shines
like clusters
of black diamonds.
it was summer.

i wasn’t afraid.

 
The Pebbled Shores of Ellada

Along the pebbled shores of Ellada
I let the sun engrave my skin
As though a Greek God has now possessed me
I tread its land like I’m cursed with its sin

Floating somewhere amidst the sea mist
Is a veiled beggar from the past
Haunting every solitary step I take
Waiting for me to rebuild his mast

One foot on this beloved soil
I become a willing prisoner
Amongst the blues of the sky and the depths of the sea
My body and soul will never be set free
The olive groves and the grape vines
Entice me to intrude their sacred grounds
But I will eat their oils and drink their wines
Until a place to dwell has been found

I have now become embodied
In a certain type of cell
Instinctively invented by my heart
Or concocted by an infinite spell
Yes my love, I must look quite sad
You say that all I do is weep
But sometimes alone in my own abyss
I pray for bliss in my sleep

The tears don’t pour just from my eyes sweetheart
If I perhaps try to escape
And it’s not only my heart that tears apart
When I must leave this bewitching place
There is a mysterious power hidden here
That keeps me safe from harm
I am invincible from the eerie fear
And my revelations remain so calm

When I sleep at night under the secretive stars
Sometimes my dreams become alive
Will these words I write all day and night
Through the centuries survive?
Will the place I love through thick skin and bone
Live as letters on a page?
Or will they dissolve beneath this holy earth
Like mind and body after old age?

When the summer smell wafts through my window
It stirs a fated movement
Not of birds and bees and flowers and grass
But of passions, desire and sentiment
This smell sparks a fire inside the heart of my soul
A burning plea for creation
For music, for dance, for love
But most of all, just for this sensation

The streets are so quiet this time of year
Yet nature is in full bloom
And the roaring waves of the vicious sea
No longer entice temper and doom
Sometimes I find this sound of silence
Encompasses me like a child
To spare me the pain of an evil man
An unknown force or an invader of land

But nonexistence on the other hand
Could enable the abundance of my delight
As I sit alone gathered in my thoughts
My heart – out it pours, without a fight
Like a mountain of rich lava
Its force so red and strong
Or a steam train on a tainted journey
Where its coals last forever long

I know deep inside my heart that I must trust
I will say good, and I will say no wrong
At the end of this day I have sung the most beautiful song
Oh! – I have waited for this moment so long
In this life I live for only this –
If this place can touch your heart
Just like it did mine
I will live an eternal bliss!

 
All poems on this post: © Jessica Bell
Published with the permission of Jessica Bell